August 11, 2014 10:01:56 AM
TUPELO -- U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker says he will fight the Obama administration's proposal to eliminate the Mississippi National Guard's 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Tupelo.
The Department of Defense's proposal to dissolve the National Guard unit also would remove Apache attack helicopters from the combat team's aviation facility in Tupelo.
"It's my number one priority in September," Wicker told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
"We need to get it done before the end of the fiscal year," he said.
The federal government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
Wicker supports passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes funding for an independent national commission to analyze President Barack Obama's budget recommendations to restructure the Army's active-duty and reserve facilities.
Wicker and Sen. Thad Cochran, both R-Miss., are sponsoring federal legislation to protect the National Guard unit with strong ties to Tupelo. The White House has recommended transferring all Army Guard AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to other facilities.
"We're very much all about protecting the 155th and our National Guard units," Wicker said.
Faced with deficit-driven cuts in defense spending, the Pentagon has repeatedly asked Congress for the authority to close what it calls unnecessary military bases around the country. Republicans and Democrats have rejected those requests, countering that the upfront costs of starting a new round of closures are too high.
This election year, as the House and Senate have pushed ahead on defense policy bills, lawmakers have rejected moves for more base closings.
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